By Alissa Fleck
Artists Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon and Mark Ruffalo, alongside longtime experts in the field, held a press conference today on the Upper West Side on Aug. 29 to promote Artists Against Fracking, an activist project with the aim of raising awareness about the ill effects of hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking).
Hydrofracking is a process of extracting gas by blasting a pressurized mixture of water and chemicals underground to crack open rock formations. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to make a decision this week on whether to allow hydrofracking in New York state.
Ono, Lennon and Ruffalo launched Artists Against Fracking with the help of nearly 200 other artists and experts, to warn New Yorkers about their important role in stopping Cuomo from approving hydrofracking in the state. Lennon said he believes the city’s elected officials are “smart and have good intentions,” but hydrofracking is not adequately understood by the public. Furthermore, Ruffalo pointed out, “The world is watching New York.”
The organization hopes people will recognize the negative environmental impact of hydrofracking, the overwhelming opposition in America and the “campaign of misinformation” being spread by gas companies. This campaign aims to convince people fracking is a clean alternative to coal, explained Lennon.
“Bloomberg said it can be regulated to be safe,” Lennon said, “but then why did Dick Cheney exempt fracking from the Clean Air Act? Fracking releases unpronounceable toxic chemicals and carcinogens.”
Cornell engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea, who has studied the industry for 25 years, said the primary concerns with hydrofracking are leaks that contaminate underground drinking water and the escape of methane into the atmosphere. Ingraffea said one in 20 wells invariably fails, producing leaks. “Methane emissions are a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide,” said Ingraffea. “It will exacerbate climate change. It’s a bad time and this is bad technology for it.”
“Science doesn’t have two sides, just one,” said Ono. “All we want is a place we can trust in terms of pureness for ourselves and our children.”
Ono said the hope is the public will visit their organization’s website, become more informed and send letters to Cuomo every day, to remind him that “we are not forgetting.”
“Cuomo is the gatekeeper right now,” Lennon said, explaining that while the decision currently faces New York, “nature does not abide by state lines.”
The group promotes renewable energy as an alternative to hydrofracking. As to the issue that any alternative to hydrofracking, however seemingly innocuous, would still leave a carbon footprint, Ingraffea said: “We’re realists. Nobody controls the price of the sun or wind, and we can harness those for a smaller carbon footprint.”
“You cannot lie about something forever,” said Ruffalo. “A sun spill is just a beautiful day.”
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